Legal Immigrants Strongly Oppose Congressional Immigration Proposals


Findings of National Multilingual Poll of Legal Immigrants Released

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A majority of legal immigrants – numbering 26 million Americans – are strongly against new Congressional proposals, including measures passed by the House of Representatives last December, to restrict illegal immigration according to a poll released today. Solid majorities of legal immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia oppose current proposals and legislation that include criminalizing and deporting the undocumented, building a wall along major sections of the Mexican border, and prosecuting advocacy and religious groups that help illegal immigrants.

"This poll is significant because it takes the temperature of those closest to the current immigration debate," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a co-sponsor of the poll. "The survey results are striking and reinforce the call for responsible immigration reform worthy of a nation built by immigrants."

Legal immigrants also expressed alarm over the tone and substance of the debate about immigration policy in Congress and the national media. Two-thirds of them believe that an "anti-immigrant" sentiment is growing in the United States and many report that it has affected their families negatively. A large majority believe that this sentiment is fueled by racism against immigrants from Latin America and Asia.

These are key findings of a poll of 800 legal immigrants, from 43 different countries, conducted in nine different languages (English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Hindi, and Haitian Creole) and in 47 states. The poll was conducted by Bendixen & Associates for New America Media, a national association of ethnic news outlets.

"The poll results remind me of similar findings in California in 1994 when immigrants from Latin America complained about racism, discrimination and disrespect against them and their families because of the xenophobic message of the supporters of Proposition 187," says pollster Sergio Bendixen.

"The poll gives immigrants the first chance to participate in the debate rather than be targets of the debate," says Sandy Close, Executive Director of New America Media. "The country's top dozen ethnic media dailies — along with the major in-language broadcast network — published the results simultaneously on Monday, Mar. 27 in a coordinated effort to ensure that these key voices are part of the national discourse."

"The need for fair and comprehensive immigration reform is too important for the debate in Washington to be conducted based on misinformation and prejudices," said Dan Restrepo, senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress, a co-sponsor of the poll. "It is essential that policymakers understand the true views of our immigrant communities and this poll is a leap forward in that regard."

Read the Executive Summary (PDF)

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